Restoration

Restoration

Posted March 25, 2016 in Lent and Easter, and in Word Made Flesh:
The Day God is Silent

by Fr. Denis Lemieux.

Though this column is usually about a Sunday Gospel reading, this month, I am going to do it differently. I’m going to write about the one day of the Church year that does not have a Gospel, because it does not have a Mass or any other service other than the offices of the breviary.

Though this column is usually about a Sunday Gospel reading, this month, I am going to do it differently. I’m going to write about the one day of the Church year that does not have a Gospel, because it does not have a Mass or any other service other than the offices of the breviary.

I want to write about Holy Saturday, the great Day of Liturgical Silence, the day Jesus himself, speaker of the great words of God, the words of wisdom, depth, beauty, truth unsurpassed—even this Jesus—is reduced to silence in the mystery of the tomb.

Well, there’s something here in this for all of us, I would say. We live in a world of words, words, words. The information age … but how informative is it, really? The age of social media … but how does it socialize us?

Does it socialize us? Is it a medium for bringing us together, or is it the kind of medium that separates, isolates?

Words, words, and more words, and just what is this in-formation? What is being formed in us? What interior realities are shaped and fashioned in the ceaseless stream of stimuli which has become the norm of so many today?

Jesus in the mystery of Holy Saturday is reduced to silence. There is something going on here that we need to think about, something we need to … well, be silent before.

On Holy Saturday in Madonna House, for lauds (morning prayer) we have a period of silence before someone reads very slowly and solemnly from the Office of Readings for the day, an ancient homily which begins, "Something strange is happening."

"Something strange is happening. There is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep."

Words are important. Words matter. We cannot communicate the deep thoughts of our minds and hearts, the deep truths we hold within ourselves, without the medium of words, of language.

But to do that, words have to know that "something strange is happening," that something strange has happened. Words must come out of silence, or they do little good and much harm.

The word is made flesh in Jesus Christ, He spoke to us and laid out for us a path of life for all humanity, the way of the Gospel in this world. But this "Word" in the life of the Trinity dwells in eternity in silence, the silence of God which is his totality of self-gift and self-communication.

And this silence of God took flesh, then, when the flesh of Christ was pierced, the gift of God most truly given when the Body of Christ was rendered immobile, held, and fixed on wood and nails, the heart of God most absolutely revealed when the Heart of Christ ceased beating.

The silence of God is the font of all language, all truth, all meaning, all words, or they are words in name only—impotent, barren.

Without silence in our lives—somehow, somewhere, in some fashion, some of the time—there is no true Word Made Flesh, not for us, not in us.

Fr. Pat McNulty knew this. This man of many words, a man who always had a lot to say on any subject, was at heart a man of the poustinia, a poustinik, a man of silence, a Holy Saturday man.

And so we too need to be Holy Saturday men and women. If our words are to give flesh to the Word who is Christ and Love in this world, they must spring from a deep well of silence within, the well Christ himself fashioned in this world when he, the King, lay asleep in the heart of the earth.

And so as I begin my own series of wordy reflections on the Word Made Flesh in our lives, I pray, and ask your prayers, that I too may live in that well, and speak and write from that well, so that some faint echo of Christ’s voice may be heard through the syllables of my own faltering stammer.

And may you all live in that well, too, so that whatever words I offer you may echo and resonate in your flesh made His.

And (oh yes!) a most Happy, Holy, and Joyful Easter to all of you.

 

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